Evening Book Group 2014 Schedule
Meets the 2nd Wednesday of each month
6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

January 8

What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn


Stirring and beautifully crafted, this debut novel recounts how the repercussions of a girl's disappearance can last for decades. In 1984, Kate Meaney is a 10-year-old loner who solves imaginary mysteries and guesses the dark secrets of the shoppers she observes at the Green Oaks mall. Kate's unlikely circle includes her always-present stuffed monkey; 22-year-old Adrian, who works at the candy shop next door; and Kate's classmate, Teresa Stanton, who hides her intelligence behind disruptive behavior. Kate's grandmother has plans for Kate: send her to boarding school. But Kate doesn't want to go. Fast forward to 2003, where it's revealed through Lisa, Adrian's sister, that Kate disappeared nearly 20 years ago, and Adrian, blamed in her disappearance, also vanished. Lisa works at a record store in Green Oaks and is drawn to Kurt, a security guard whose surveillance-camera sightings of a little girl clutching a stuffed monkey hint that he might have ties to Kate's disappearance. Teresa, meanwhile, now a detective, has her own reasons for being haunted by Kate's disappearance. Gripping to the end, the book is both a chilling mystery and a poignant examination of the effects of loss and loneliness.

February 12

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo


While the distance between rich and poor is growing in the U.S., the gap between the haves and have-nots in India is staggering to behold. This first book by a New Yorker staff writer (and Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for the Washington Post) jolts the reader’s consciousness with the opposing realities of poverty and wealth in a searing visit to the Annawaldi settlement, a flimflam slum that has recently sprung up in the western suburbs of the gigantic city of Mumbai, perched tentatively along the modern highway leading to the airport and almost within a stone’s throw of new, luxurious hotels. We first meet Abdul, whose daily grind is to collect trash and sell it; in doing so, he has “lifted his large family above subsistence.” Boo takes us all around the community, introducing us to a slew of disadvantaged individuals who, nevertheless, draw on their inner strength to not only face the dreary day but also ponder a day to come that will, perhaps, be a little brighter. Sympathetic yet objective and eloquently rendered.

March 12

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler


Comparisons to The Help (2009) are inevitable, and though there are echoes of Kathryn Stockett’s popular best-seller to be found in Calling Me Home, Kibler has crafted a wholly original debut. The novel, set in 1930s Kentucky, centers on a forbidden romance between a teenage white girl, Isabelle McAllister, and Robert Prewitt, the black son of the McAllister’s maid. Chafing under her mother’s restrictive notions of female propriety, Isabelle finds a kindred spirit in Robert. The two begin to meet clandestinely, but any hope of a future together is threatened by the overwhelming racism of the era. Against impossible odds, the pair elopes to neighboring Cincinnati, but their happiness is short-lived when Isabelle’s thuggish brothers drag her back to the family home. The sad story is presented in flashback, as told by a now-elderly Isabelle to her black hairdresser, Dorrie, while the two drive cross-country to a funeral. Some may object that the civil rights struggle is once again being filtered through a white perspective, but there’s no denying the pull of Kibler’s story.

April 9

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alverez


his sensitive story of four sisters who must adjust to life in America after having to flee from the Dominican Republic is told through a series of episodes beginning in adulthood, when their lives have been shaped by U. S. mores, and moving backwards to their wealthy childhood on the island. Adapting to American life is difficult and causes embarrassment when friends meet their parents, anger as they are bullied and called "spics," and identity confusion following summer trips to the family compound in the Dominican Republic. These interconnected vignettes of family life, resilience, and love are skillfully intertwined and offer young adults a perspective on immigration and families as well as a look at America through Hispanic eyes. This unique coming-of-age tale is a feast of stories that will enchant and captivate readers.

May 14

City of Thieves by David Benioff


In the six years since his critically praised début, "The 25th Hour," Benioff has produced a story collection and a handful of screenplays, including the blockbuster "Troy." The imprint of his film work is evident in this novel, a finely honed but too easily sentimental adventure story set during the siege of Leningrad. Lev, the mousy, virginal son of a disappeared Jewish poet, is jailed by the Russian Army for looting; in prison and awaiting execution, he shares a cell with a blowhard blond infantryman accused of desertion. When a strange colonel offers the pair an impossible task in exchange for their lives, they set off on a journey that takes them through a series of nightmarish war zones, populated by cannibals, prostitutes, starving children, and demonic Nazi chess enthusiasts. Benioff finds a good deal of humor amid the grisly absurdities of wartime, but does so at the expense of real emotional engagement.

June 11

The Kinship by Ernest Hebert


Showcases a few days in the life of a down-on-his-luck New Englander and his "special" son. A must read. This book contains two novels from the acclaimed Darby series: A Little More Than Kin and The Passion of Estelle Jordan. Includes a substantial essay by the author, which explains how and why he came to write about the shack people in New England.

September 10

The Women's Room by Marilyn French


The twenty-one-million copy bestseller-available again for a new generation of readers Originally published in 1977, The Women's Room was a novel that-for the first time-expressed the inner lives of women who left education and professional advancement behind to marry in the 1950s, only to find themselves adrift and unable to support themselves after divorce in the 1970s. Some became destitute, a few went insane. But many went back to school in the heyday of the Women's Liberation movement, and were swept up in the promise of equality for both sexes. Marilyn French's characters represent this wide cross section of American women, and her wry and pointed voice gives depth and emotional intensity to this timeless book that remains controversial and completely relevant."Mira was hiding in the ladies' room. She called it that, even though someone had scratched out the word ladies' in the sign on the door, and written women's underneath. . . ." So begins the famous feminist novel that follows the transformation of Mira Ward and her circle as the women's movement begins to have an impact on their lives.

October 8

Crown of Columbus by Michael Dorris and Louise Erdrich


In their only fully collaborative literary work, Michael Dorris and Louise Erdrich have written a gripping novel of history, suspense, recovery, and new beginnings. The Crown of Columbus chronicles the adventures of a pair of mismatched lovers—Vivian Twostar, a divorced, pregnant anthropologist, and Roger Williams, a consummate academic, epic poet, and bewildered father of Vivian's baby—on their quest for the truth about Christopher Columbus and themselves. When Vivian uncovers what is presumed to be the most diary of Christopher Columbus, she and Roger are drawn into a journey from icy New Hampshire to the idyllic Caribbean in search of "the greatest treasure of Europe." Lured by the wild promise of redeeming the past, they are plunged into a harrowing race against time and death that threatens—and finally changes—their lives. A rollicking tale of adventure, The Crown of Columbus is also contemporary love story and a tender examination of parenthood and passion. Anthropologist Vivian Twostar uncovers what may be the scholarly coup of the century when she finds the legendary lost diary of Columbus. Lured by its promise of redeeming the past, Vivian, her son, and academician Roger Williams embark on a harrowing journey from icy New Hampshire to the idyllic Bahamas--an adventure that changes their lives forever.

November 12

Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks


In his most extraordinary book, "one of the great clinical writers of the 20th century" (The New York Times) recounts the case histories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders. Oliver Sacks's The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat tells the stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents.If inconceivably strange, these brilliant tales remain, in Dr. Sacks's splendid and sympathetic telling, deeply human. They are studies of life struggling against incredible adversity, and they enable us to enter the world of the neurologically impaired, to imagine with our hearts what it must be to live and feel as they do. A great healer, Sacks never loses sight of medicine's ultimate responsibility: "the suffering, afflicted, fighting human subject."

December 10

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline


A long journey from home and the struggle to find it again form the heart of the intertwined stories that make up this moving novel. Foster teen Molly is performing community-service work for elderly widow Vivian, and as they go through Vivian’s cluttered attic, they discover that their lives have much in common. When Vivian was a girl, she was taken to a new life on an orphan train. These trains carried children to adoptive families for 75 years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the start of the Great Depression. Novelist Kline (Bird in Hand, 2009) brings Vivian’s hardscrabble existence in ¬Depression-era Minnesota to stunning life. Molly’s present-day story in Maine seems to pale in comparison, but as we listen to the two characters talk, we find grace and power in both of these seemingly disparate lives. Although the girls are vulnerable, left to the whims of strangers, they show courage and resourcefulness. Kline illuminates a largely hidden chapter of American history, while portraying the coming-of-age of two resilient young women.

All book descriptions from amazon.com

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